Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges

   Section 1

Section 2
   Background Survey
What is Assessment?
Why Assessment?
Educational Improvement
Deep Learning
Formative Feedback
Learning Paradigm
Prompting Learning

Section 3
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Section 4
Assessment Tools and Data

Section 5
Course Assessment

Section 6
Program Assessment


Section 7
Closing the Loop

Section 8
Implementing Assessment Training on Campus


Section 9
References & Resources



Using Materials from this Website

Entire Training in a modifiable document


Using Materials from this Website


Deep Learning

New research in neurobiology has contributed to greater understanding of how people store and use knowledge. This evidence actually builds on Bloom's Taxonomy which categorizes types of knowledge and the way it is used ranging from simple recall to more complex synthetic or analytic processes. Click here for a review of Bloom's taxonomy of learning and the three learning domains: cognitive, psychomotor, and affective.

Faculty are familiar with superficial and deep learning. Superficial learning involves rote memory and recall. Students often limit their studying to techniques that involve flashcards, lists, or definitions of course content, remaining unskilled at integrating material or making everyday judgments. Deep learning is characterized by useful knowledge, knowledge that can be used to construct and synthesize new understanding. Long term learning requires the development of new neuronal connections and physical changes in the brain. Zull (2003), in The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of the Brain, describes the neurobiology related to learning.  The realization that deep learning entails physical and biologic processes should influence the way we teach. Zull describes factors involved in driving material beyond the superficial recall level, through deeper parts of the brain, in order to improve learning. The book cover at the bottom of the page is connected to a detailed review of the material in the book and the publishers website if you wish to purchase the book. I would HIGHLY recommend it.

In addition to Zull's book, the National Research Council has produced several books which describe the biology and pedagogy involved in "knowing". These books explore the details involved in transforming from a discipline novice to a discipline expert. Research data and practical suggestions about pedagogy and assessment make these texts very valuable. The NRC books can be read online for free or purchased by clicking on the link attached to the book cover below. I have quoted  information excerpted from the NRC websites describing how these books provide knowledge and assessment tools related to deep learning.

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (2000) "this book offers exciting new research about the mind and the brain that provides answers to a number of compelling questions. When do infants begin to learn? How do experts learn and how is this different from non-experts? What can teachers and schools do-with curricula, classroom settings, and teaching methods--to help children learn most effectively? New evidence from many branches of science has significantly added to our understanding of what it means to know, from the neural processes that occur during learning to the influence of culture on what people see and absorb. How People Learn examines these findings and their implications for what we teach, how we teach it, and how we assess what our children learn. The book uses exemplary teaching to illustrate how approaches based on what we now know result in in-depth learning. This new knowledge calls into question concepts and practices firmly entrenched in our current education system." Quoted from the National Academy Press website at

Knowing what Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment (2001)  This book is a "cutting-edge work on the following topics: (1) assessment practices that are based on cognitive principles and are being successfully implemented in schools and classrooms, (2) new statistical models with promise for use in assessing a broad range of cognitive performances, (3) programs that engage students in self- and peer assessment, (4) innovative technologies for learning and assessment, (5) cognitively based instructional intervention programs, and (6) policy perspectives on new forms of assessment." Quoted from the National Academy Press website at

Hit the back arrow to return to your previous page


Resources and Links

Images are linked to the publishers website.

The publisher has asked that I include a special discount code HE04 for multiple copy purchases of any books on their site.


These books by National Academy Press are free to read online or they can be purchased for a very reasonable price. Just click on the book covers.

Cover Image


Display Catalog Information


Janet Fulks ( & Kate Pluta (
Assessing Student Learning in Community Colleges (2004), Bakersfield College